USAID Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program | Iraq
Home to successive civilizations for the past 8,000 years, Iraq was once the center of the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
For over 30 years, Iraq was largely a state-run economy with minimal private sector participation. A centralized economy with the state directing the production of goods and services resulted in a weak business environment that hindered private sector development.
In 2004, the U.S. Agency for international Development (USAID) selected Louis Berger to implement the Izdihar Private Sector Growth and Employment Generation Program. Aimed at developing a more market-friendly environment for economic growth, the program laid the foundation for the USAID Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program, implemented by Louis Berger in partnership with USAID and the Government of Iraq from 2008 until its conclusion in 2013.
The program team worked with local business associations, nongovernmental organizations, government officials and local religious leaders to develop Iraqi communities through services that stimulate business and promote greater access to loans and other financial services. The comprehensive program:
- Supported development of 12 microfinance institutions that distributed more than 450,000 micro loans worth $1.08 billion.
- Disbursed more than $22 million in loans to economically active, vulnerable borrowers, including religious minority groups.
- Disbursed 12,915 small- and medium-enterprise (SME) loans valued at $227 million.
- Provided technical assistance to 14 small business development centers serving the majority of Iraq's governorates.
- Organized workshops, seminars and conferences on lending to micro-, small and medium enterprises.
- Provided 5,629 youths with better access to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
- Assisted the government of Iraq toward acceptance into the World Trade Organization.